The role of activated macrophages in the host defense against pathogens or tumor cells has been investigated extensively. Many researchers have been using various culture media in in vitro experiments using macrophages. We previously reported that J774.1/JA-4 macrophage-like cells showed great differences in their activated macrophage phenotypes, such as production of reactive oxygen, nitric oxide (NO) or cytokines depending on the culture medium used, either F-12 (Ham's F-12 nutrient mixture) or Dulbecco modified Eagle's medium (DMEM). To examine whether a difference in the culture medium would influence the functions of primary macrophages, we used BALB/c mouse peritoneal macrophages in this study. Among the activated macrophage phenotypes, the expression of inducible NO synthase in LPS- and/or IFN-γ-treated peritoneal macrophages showed the most remarkable differences between F-12 and DMEM; i.e., NO production by LPS- and/or IFN-γ-treated cells was far lower in DMEM than in F-12. Similar results were obtained with C57BL mouse peritoneal macrophages. Besides, dilution of F-12 medium with saline resulted in a slight decrease in NO production, whereas that of DMEM with saline resulted in a significant increase, suggesting the possibility that DMEM contained some inhibitory factor(s) for NO production. However, such a difference in NO production was not observed when macrophage-like cell lines were examined. These results suggest that phenotypes of primary macrophages could be changed significantly with respect to host inflammatory responses by the surrounding environment including nutritional factors and that these altered macrophage phenotypes might influence the biological host defense.
Keywords: Culture medium; Cytokine; Macrophage activation; Mouse peritoneal macrophage; Nitric oxide.